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The BBC's Tony Samstag
"The government argued the plant would release far too much carbon dioxide"
 real 28k

Friday, 10 March, 2000, 14:04 GMT
Norway moves to form new coalition
Jens Stoltenberg
Jens Stoltenberg has agreed to form a new government
The leader of Norway's opposition, Jens Stoltenberg, has agreed to try to form a new government, following Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik's resignation over an environmental dispute.

"I have agreed to investigate whether I can form a government," Mr Stoltenberg said after meeting King Harald.

Mr Stoltenberg, who leads the Labour Party, said he hoped to resolve the issue by next week.

Mr Bondevik formally resigned on Friday after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence in a debate over whether to allow gas-fired power plants to be built in Norway.

Seats in parliament
Labour - 65
Christian Democrats - 25
Progress Party - 25
Conservative Party - 23
Centre Party - 11
Socialist Left - 9
Liberal Party - 6
Coastal Party - 1
Correspondents say the likely return of a government led by the Labour Party would shift Norway's politics slightly leftwards.

Labour has been the dominant political party in Norway since the 1920s, and is the biggest party in parliament.

No new elections can be held until late 2001, so parliament will remain hung.

Carbon dioxide

Mr Bondevik, whose Christian Democrat Party has been in coalition with the Centre and Liberal parties since 1997, opposes the building of gas-fired power plants.

Kjell Magne Bondevik
Kjell Magne Bondevik has formally resigned
He wanted a postponement until new technology becomes available which will make it possible to remove 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.

But the opposition - an ad hoc alliance of conservatives and the Labour Party - wants to press ahead with building the stations to meet the country's growing demand for power.

Bitter debate

The BBC correspondent in Oslo says Mr Bondevik's government has done its best to implement progressive environmental policies during its 28 months in power.

Now, it would appear to be the first government to fall as a result of issues related to global warming.

Natural gas power in Norway, the world's second-largest oil exporter, has caused a long and bitter debate in the nation of 4.5 million.

Opponents of the gas-fired power plants say they will harm the environment by producing as much pollution as 700,000 private cars a year.

But supporters say they will cut the amount of electricity imported from dirty, coal-fired plants abroad.

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